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Taste

The best part about my Halloween decorations this year? They’re edible! One of the kabocha squashes sounded particularly good the other night, so I chopped some up and roasted them for about 20 minutes with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. A perfect squash doesn’t need much else.

My favorite squash is my mom’s acorn squash — roasted with just a little bit of brown sugar and butter. But kabocha squash is already pretty sweet so I went the savory route. After they were soft and carmelized on the bottom, I cut up the pieces and tossed them in a salad with kale, dried cranberries, feta, red onion and pepitas. 

By the way — you need a good knife when cutting your kabocha. I’m learning the hard way that I am in desperate need of a new knife set.

xo

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For our monthly Supperclub meeting (with a Halloween theme!) I decided to make a recipe I’ve been wanting to try for over a year now — a savory, stuffed pumpkin. I winged it a bit, but it turned out amazing. 

Ingredients:
1 Sugar Pie Pumpkin
1/2 white onion
1 baguette
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup fontina, 1/2 cup gouda
spices: salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika

First, carve out the pumpkin. Really clean that guy out. 

If you’re smart, you’ll save the seeds to roast afterwards. 

Next, tear up your baguette and toast the pieces so they have just a bit of char. 

Now it’s time to stuff. Fill that thing to the brim with bread, onions, and cheese. I mean, REALLY stuff it. Then, pour in a cup of cream, mixed with your spices (to taste). 

After that, it’s easy. Pop it in the oven at 400 for an hour and 15 minutes. When it’s done, you’ll have a golden, soft pumpkin full of melted cheesy goodness. 

Cutting it was a little awkward at first, but everyone ended up with a slice of pumpkin and a healthy (?) scoop of stuffing.  

Amanda whipped up some truly delicious pumpkin/portobello/bacon mac and cheese. 

And Kirsten put together some brussels sprouts!
The Giants won, we had plenty of wine on hand, and several good desserts to fill our bellies up even more.

All in all, a perfect night. 

(A view of part of downtown from Amanda’s Pac Heights living room) 

xo

It’s been freakishly warm this week in SF, but I want it to feel like fall dang it! So I decided to make chili in order to hurry the weather along.

My chili recipes are always slightly different (that’s why I love this stuff, stick to a few key things and it’ll always taste good), but bear the same things in common: Lots of vegetables, lots of chunk and lots of spice. Nothing like that mushy, canned stuff. This time I opted to mix in some red pepper, zucchini and corn.

I chop up my vegetables pretty thickly, so they’re still nice and chunky after they’ve been simmering for a while.

(Chunky is kind of a gross word, but you know what I mean).

Half a white/yellow onion goes into a pot of hot olive oil. I mix in plenty of red pepper flakes at this stage and a healthy pinch of salt. After a minute or so, I add a couple cloves of minced garlic, and sauteé until golden.

Next, I add in some canned tomatoes, and two cans of beans (liquid and all!), bringing it to a healthy simmer. Now, it’s spice time. I eyeball this part, but I add a lot of spice because I love it. Big dashes of chili powder, paprika and cumin.

I like my vegetables to have a subtle char, so I broiled the zucchini and pepper for 10 minutes or so with some salt, pepper and olive oil.

Hopefully by now, the chili is simmering beautifully. That’s when I mix all the veggies in (I used frozen corn because they don’t have fresh ears at Whole Foods anymore), and let it cook for a couple more minutes.

Yum! Delicious, chunky (yup, I’m going to keep saying it) veggie chili. If you like cheese as much as I do, top with a sprinkle (or a handful…) of cheddar cheese, a few slices of avocado and a few splashes of Tapatío.

PS: Fall — hurry up!

xo


G
reen goo doesn’t always look that appetizing, but trust me, you want to try this stuff. 

I’m a bit of a hummus fiend, and have always LOVED the milder taste of the edamame hummus from Trader Joes. So last night, I decided to try my hand at it. It’s super easy — I just replaced edamame beans for chickpeas in my standard hummus recipe, added garlic, and a tiny bit of red pepper flakes. 

The result was a bright, pistachio green spread that tasted truly delicious. It definitely tastes like hummus… but slightly less bean like (does that make sense?). I spread a few spoonfuls onto a fresh baguette to accompany a kale salad (with cherry tomatoes, avocado, dried cranberries and roasted chickpeas) for dinner. 

The rest was stored in a handy Bonne Maman jar for later snacking. Yum!

Happy weekend everyone! xo

Fogust food:

Oh the past few weeks have been absolutely awful in San Francisco. If I didn’t work on the Peninsula, I’d have no idea it was even summer. It sort of started to clear up this week, but our usual summer fog has been especially dreary this August (Fogust!).

Of course, soup is the only remedy for this gloomy weather.

I love making soup at any time of year (San Francisco weather is so mild, there’s rarely a day when it’s too hot for soup). It’s so easy — just plop a bunch of stuff into vegetable broth, simmer and enjoy! A few nights ago, I decided to make a really simple spinach soup using some vegetables I had on hand. 

Ingredients:
1/2 yellow or white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 carrots, diced
4 cups chopped spinach
2 cups brown rice
1 can cannellini beans
4 cups vegetable broth (I usually do half broth half water, so my broth stretches out more)
salt, pepper to taste

optional…
sprinkle of parmesan
oregano
red pepper flakes

There’s not a lot you need to know to make this soup — and it’s one of those soups that’s super flexible, and can be adjusted with different ingredients (quinoa for the rice, kale for the spinach, etc.) and seasoned in a million different ways. 

I always start out soups the same way — seasonings and ingredients that need the most cooking into the pan first. I sautéed the onions and carrots in olive oil with garlic, red pepper flakes (I like all of my food to have a little kick), oregano and plenty of salt to start off. I might be making this up, but I feel like putting in the seasoning this way really gets the flavor moving throughout the entire soup. 

Next I add the beans in, and cook them until some of them start to get juuuuusttt a little crust on the bottom of the pan. Then I add in the broth (like I mentioned, I do 2 cups water, 2 cups broth, but that’s just me. It makes my veggie broth last longer, and I don’t think it effects the taste at all), and bring it to a rolling boil. 

In the meantime, I cook my rice. Usually I have some good wild rice on hand, but I had run out and didn’t feel like spending 40 minutes cooking it on a weeknight, so I cheated and got the pre-made stuff. I always cook the rice separately, and then let people scoop in the amount they want. I always have a lot of leftovers (the best part!), and I’ve found grains REALLY expand when left overnight in the broth. And this soup really isn’t as appealing when it becomes sloppy rice goop. 

Let the soup boil for 5-10 minutes (I never cook my soup that long. One of my co-workers gave me the hardest time, saying he cooks his for 2 hours minimum. But I’m impatient), and then bring it down to a simmer. Take the spinach and stir it all in. Let it simmer for another couple minutes, give it a good taste, and add extra seasoning if needed. 

(Note: If you don’t have any rice, I feel like this soup would taste amazing with an egg poached in it)

Voila! That’s it. I like to top mine with a healthy scoop of parmesan cheese, a spoonful of harissa (I told you I like spice) and some freshly ground pepper.

Yum! The perfect cure for Fogust. 

On a slightly related note, I’ve recently discovered an amazing solution for all my leftover vegetable scraps. We have a compost bin, but it doesn’t work very well and smells gross, but I feel terrible throwing all of my vegetable scraps away after cooking. Thanks to a tip on a favorite blog, I’m now freezing all of my vegetable scraps in a giant tupperware to make a future giant batch of homemade vegetable stock! I’ve just started saving, so I’ll let you know how it goes. 

xo

Sunday dinners are always kind of special. Sometimes, if we’re feeling lazy, we’ll make the trek to one of our favorite restaurants — tapas, Delarosa, or something new.

But if I can get my act together, I like to take the extra time and put together something delicious. I’ve been craving fish lately, so a simple salmon dish seemed like a good, light ending to our slightly decadent weekend.

Ingredients:

2 small fillets of wild salmon (I like to have them leave the skin on, but it’s up to you)
1 small bundle of asparagus
Handful of marble potatoes
1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbs unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

It’s pretty simple — butter the bottom of a glass or ceramic dish, and place halved marble potatoes face down in the bottom. I sprinkled them liberally with salt, pepper and crushed garlic. What I WISH I had done was bake these little potatoes for a bit first. They still turned out fine, but if you like yours really well done like me, I’d recommend popping just the potatoes into the oven for 15-20 minutes before putting everything else in. 

Then, top with the salmon fillets (skin side down) with a lemon slice on top of each. I covered the fillets with asparagus, did an extra squirt of lemon juice, wrapped the entire dish in tin foil, and put it in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or so. 

Voila! The potatoes got crispy and kind of meld with the salmon and asparagus, which is delicious. The garlic roasts, and the asparagus and salmon were perfectly tender. 

I sprinkled a little rosemary on top for that extra something, but other than that — serve as is. 

xo

My urban herb (sort-of) garden:

I love to garden — my mom had the most amazing garden when we were younger — but my little apartment is seriously lacking in the outdoor department — as of now I’m limited to my firescape and windowsills. Herb seedlings don’t seem to thrive particularly well on my kitchen windowsill (my struggling basil sprouts were just embarrassing), but this solution seems to work perfectly. 

Whenever I need to buy herbs, I buy a particularly big bunch from the farmer’s market or Whole Foods. I use what I need, and then take the rest for my bottle herb garden. It’s simple — just fill a jar with water. Then, take the herbs, and cut a couple centimeters off the bottom stems while running them under cool water (I have no idea why this works, but it does). Put them in the water, making sure that no stems with leaves are submerged. A few strands may wilt, but I’ve found this to be incredibly successful. 

For whatever reason, basil seems to take to this damp environment very well. I’ve been keeping basil on hand like this since college. See — it’s already grown full blown roots after a week and a half! 

The nice thing about this is that you rarely have to refill the jars with water, they look pretty in your kitchen (smell great too), and don’t have any of the mess and dirt that comes with potted herbs.

Plus, it’s cheap. And that makes anything worth attempting in my book. 

xo